Over the last two-and-a-half years, Premier League fans have been treated to the ridiculous antics of Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli.
Balotelli's hijinks like lighting fireworks to start a fire in his rented house, a visit to a university to use its bathroom and being fined for throwing darts at a youth player have seized headlines of various tabloids over the past 30 months.
The pranks Balotelli committed are expected for a person his age who has amassed a tremendous amount of wealth.
However, his actions have been contentious with his teammates, which was evident Thursday following a dangerous tackle on Scott Sinclair in training.
Manager Roberto Mancini intervened following Balotelli's actions on the training ground, causing a skirmish to develop. Balotelli was ordered to leave the facility shortly afterward.
Although this is not his first training-ground fight with Manchester City, it symbolizes City's "poor" form this season.
The Sky Blues are currently seven points off the top of the table and finished last in their Champions League group.
Last season through 21 matches, City were on top of the table with 51 points—six more points than the club earned this season through the same amount of fixtures.
A primary reason why City have struggled is due to the lack of playing time for Balotelli, due in part to the strong form of the club's other strikers: Carlos Tevez, Edin Džeko and Sergio Agüero.
It also does not help Balotelli that City have won just one of the last seven matches in which the striker played in.
Furthermore, Balotelli has not featured in a match since Dec. 9's loss to Manchester United. The embattled striker was substituted for after 51 minutes and has not featured in any of City's five matches since then.
The situation the striker finds himself in at Eastlands appears hopeless. Despite being one of the most talented young players in the world, he is getting limited playing time and has been in a constant feud with his manager.
Balotelli also finds himself stuck at the club due to his hefty price.
Furthermore, Man City's club's owner, Sheikh Mansour likes Balotelli because in the words of Mancini, "he recognises the talent and he exports the name of the City over the world."
Considering what Balotelli brings to the club financially, he will not leave anytime soon, no matter how poor his behavior or playing situation may be.
This leaves City in a difficult situation. They could try to reform Balotelli to stop him from acting immature. However, this will be difficult considering the Italian listens to almost no one but himself.
The club could suspend him, though that will be difficult considering City are in the busiest part of the Premier League campaign.
Balotelli will be needed in the coming weeks with a restructured lineup taking shape once Yaya Touré leaves to play in the African Cup of Nations.
He will also be needed to replace an injured Agüero, who could be out for the next 10 days with a hamstring injury.
In the short term, both Balotelli and Manchester City must work together to resolve the striker's poor behavior so he could return to the squad.
Although Balotelli may be controversial and a problem for the club, his play will be important if City are to retain their title of Premier League champions.
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